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There are 9 messages totalling 686 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Tehran: Where Islam and Public Debate Have Often Bonded
2. Pro-Khatami Activist Jailed in Iran
3. Iranian court charges prominent reformers
4. Britain's Cook postpones Iran trip
5. Iranian workers rally for rights
6. Saudi crown prince in UAE for talks
7. Iranian students rally in support of free press
8. Iran leader commutes death sentences of students
9. Fwd: In New York ,Boston,Chicago,INF invites you.


Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 12:56:41 EDT
Subject: Tehran: Where Islam and Public Debate Have Often Bonded

Tehran: Where Islam and Public Debate Have Often Bonded
<A HREF="Click">">Click here: Abuzz - Welcome to
the International News Circle</A>


or more than a century, the press in Iran has sporadically been more than a
mere transmitter of news. It has also been one big open-ended conversation in
which ideas are discussed and opinions shaped.
And since the election of Mohammed Khatami as president nearly three years
ago, almost no subject has been off-limits: the rule of law, the abuse of
power, the place of religion in politics, the future shape of the Islamic
state, polygamy, suicide, mental illness, divorce, adultery, mixed-sex
parties, wife-beating, poverty, even cross-dressing.


Recent Coverage

Iran's Hard-Line Courts Shut More Reformist Newspapers (April 28, 2000)
Iranian Students Protest Crackdown on Newspapers (April 26, 2000)
Iran Reformers Feeling Pressed by Hard-Liners (April 25, 2000)
U.S. Ending a Few of the Sanctions Imposed on Iran (March 18, 2000)
Gunman in Iran Seriously Wounds a Top Reform Figure (March 13, 2000)
Iran Group Cancels Gains of Five Seats By Reformists (March 12, 2000)
Final Tally Shows Reformers Controlling Iranian Parliament (Feb. 27, 2000)
Many Iranian Conservatives Lose Seats (Feb. 23, 2000)
As Ballots Are Counted, Iran's Moderates Fear Backlash (Feb. 22, 2000)
Iran Reformers' Gains Reflected in Homages to Outspoken Cleric (Feb. 21,
Iranians in Huge Numbers Vote in Parliamentary Election (Feb. 19, 2000)
Iran Hard-Liners Try Cleric, Who Tries Them (Nov. 10, 1999)
Iran's Leader Assails Those Who Favor Better Ties With U.S. (Nov. 4, 1999)
Cleric's Trial Becomes Flash Point of Iran's Political Fate (Oct. 31, 1999)
With Iran's Reforms at Stake, a Moderate Digs In (Oct. 24, 1999)
Iranian's Career: From Hostage-Taker to Reformer (Oct. 13, 1999)
Issue in Iran Democracy Debate: Clerics' Power (Oct. 15, 1998)
Debating Moderation, a Year After Iran Vote (May 24, 1998)
President Who Charmed Iranians Cannot Change Status Quo (Feb. 1, 1998)

So the recent closing of 11 reformist newspapers and five magazines by Iran's
judiciary on charges that they published material that "disparaged Islam" is
more than a classic case of press censorship. It is also a striking attempt
to shrink the space for public and intellectual debate.

The crackdown comes not long after parliamentary elections in February that
were swept by reformist candidates. The political split has pitted
conservatives, who control the judiciary and are determined to preserve
adherence to a strict interpretation of Islamic rule, against reformers like
President Mohammed Khatami who are equally determined to create a civil
society based on tolerance and the rule of law. For the conservatives, too
much openness can only weaken the core revolutionary values and erode the
clergy's grip on power; for the reformers, democracy -- and open access to
good information -- are the key to stability and good governance.

"Our history for the past 200 years has been a recurring cycle of
dictatorship and chaos fueled by people's reaction to dictatorship," said
Farideh Farhi, a political scientist who is writing a book on her home
country's politics. "The press has become the forum for a national debate
about how to create a new way of politics so that the people and the
government are not constantly at odds with each other. In the realm of ideas,
at least, moderation is winning out."

That Iran -- the world's only modern theocracy -- even has a lively tradition
of open debate might come as a surprise. Theocracy by definition imposes
religious thinking on a secular society. Thus, certain types of conduct and
thought are not only illegal but also considered evil.

But Shiite Islam thrives on discussion in a particularly egalitarian way; it
recognizes different interpretations, welcomes argument (at least among its
clerical scholars) and shuns a rigid hierarchy. For example, Shiite clerics
rise in the ranks through a democratic process -- the consensus of their

A cleric can't call himself an ayatollah; other people give him the title,
based ostensibly on the depth of his learning and the sagacity of his
writings. Similarly, no central authority grants theological students the
authority to don a turban, a long tunic and a cloak. They can decide for
themselves when they think they have learned enough to dress up.

Sermons have often been platforms for trying out new ideas. Now the
reformers, some of whom are clerics themselves, are using this tradition to
argue that in a modern society, clerics aren't the only ones who are entitled
to such freedom.

The print media are particularly important as a forum for ideas in Iran
because both radio and television are state-run, and the country lacks
independent, nongovernmental organizations and established mass-membership
political parties. Opinion pieces by some of Iran's leading intellectuals as
well as call-in columns, surveys, satires and cartoons serve as a bridge
between the ruling elite and the people.

"People still tend to follow heroes in Iran, not parties with platforms,"
said Roy Mottahedeh, a professor of history at Harvard University.
"Newspapers, by articulating positions, are the kernels of parties."

Unlike most countries in the Middle East, Iran has episodically enjoyed a
lively press for more than a century. At the end of the 19th century, the
reformer Mirza Malkum Khan founded the newspaper Qanun, in which he argued
that laws protecting individual rights were crucial for the nation's
security. "God has blessed Iran," he wrote in the paper's first issue in
1890. "His blessing has been negated by the lack of laws." Eventually the
paper was banned, and mere possession of it became a state crime.

During the constitutional movement of the early 20th century, 140 newspapers
began publishing, most of them asking for the rule of law. In an
extraordinary civics lesson, one of them published proceedings of the

The era of an independent-minded press ended in the 1920's with the reign of
Reza Shah, whose priority was law and order, not the rule of law. It was no
better under his son, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, whose heavy censorship of
newspapers, books, films and fiction increased over the years. The Islamic
revolution of 1979 was supposed to abolish censorship, but intellectual
freedom was short-lived. "I condemn the corrupt intellectuals and the
poisoned pens of conspiring writers and democrats," Ayatollah Ruhollah
Khomeini, the revolution's founder, declared soon after his victory.
Newspaper editors were given orders to reflect "a proper Islamic emphasis" in
their pages.

The impulse to use the press to promote open debate began again in the early
1990's. Even before Mr. Khatami's election, newspapers and journals began to
use humor, call-in questions-and-answers and editorials written in code to
question the way the country was being run.

The boldest was Salaam, a leftist daily that promoted social justice and the
redistribution of wealth from rich to poor. For years, its "Hello Salaam"
column, which focused on questions and complaints called in by ordinary
people, reflected what Iranians were grumbling about in shops, communal taxis
and their homes. Callers complained about low salaries, hoarding, the ban on
satellite dishes and clerics who drove Mercedeses. After the election of Mr.
Khatami, the number of publications in Iran more than doubled, for a total of
more than 1,200 newspapers, magazines and journals.

Many of the newspapers were clearly political ventures. Hamid Reza
Jalaeipour, one of Iran's leading reformist publishers, once tried
unsuccessfully to form his own political party. So he helped found a
newspaper called Jameah instead, touting it as "the first civil society
newspaper" in Iran. Khordad, published by former Interior Minister Abdullah
Nouri, was essentially a political platform for him and the reform movement.

Reformist intellectuals, writers and politicians say the recent crackdown can
be seen through two different lenses. From one perspective, it is an ominous
defeat of moderation in the name of preserving national security. Before last
week's crackdown, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who wields
more power than President Khatami, charged that some reformist newspapers had
become "bases of the enemy."

Still, newspapers in Iran tend to have many lives. After Jameah was closed
down, it reopened four more times under different names (although its most
recent incarnation was closed again this week). Similarly, when Mr. Nouri, a
middle-rank cleric, was found guilty of treason and sent to prison last year,
his newspaper was closed and reopened under a new name. The paper, which
continued to publish Mr. Nouri's words and statements from prison, also
closed this week.

The key to intellectual openness for many reformers is patience. "We are not
destroyers, we are reformers," Mr. Jalaeipour said at a conference in Berlin
last week. "We are in favor of making government responsive,
institutionalizing the sovereignty of law and not undermining it in the name
of religion, revolution and war. This is our most important concern. And we
move calmly and slowly, not because the government calls us every day and
controls us, but because there is no other way."


Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 16:30:03 EDT
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Pro-Khatami Activist Jailed in Iran

Pro-Khatami Activist Jailed in Iran

.c The Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - The head of Iran's largest reformist student group was
jailed Sunday in a widening crackdown by hard-liners, who reportedly are also
seeking to remove two top pro-reform Cabinet ministers.

Ali Afshari, head of the Office for Fostering Unity, was sent into detention
after several hours of questioning by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran, said
officials of the student group, speaking on condition of anonymity.

It was not clear if Afshari was charged with any crime. Judicial officials
were not immediately available for comment.

Conservatives in the Islamic clerical regime have over the past two week
closed down 16 newspapers, arrested two journalists and questioned numerous
reform activists in a backlash to preserve their power against the
increasingly strong pro-democracy movement.

Newpapers reported Sunday that the outgoing parliament, which is controlled
by hard-liners, has summoned Culture Minister Ataollah Mohajerani and
Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mousavi Lari, both leading supporters of reform,
to face impeachment proceedings.

The student leader Afshari and two newspaper editors - all staunch allies of
popular President Mohammad Khatami - were questioned by the court about their
presence at a conference in Berlin, Germany, earlier this month, at which
slogans criticizing Iran's religious government were chanted.

The editors - Ezzatollah Sahabi of Iran-e-Farda magazine and Hamid-Reza
Jalaipour of the Asr-e-Azadegan daily - were freed after their interrogation.
Both of their publications have been banned.

After his release, Jalaipour said the court told him that his participation
at the Berlin conference ``was an act against Iran's security and that I had
propagated against the Islamic Republic.''

Jalaipour said the men had tried to defend the ongoing reforms at the
conference, but were attacked by anti-government Iranians in exile.

``It's a strange situation. Abroad, we are attacked by anti-revolutionaries
as agents of the Islamic establishment in Iran, and at home they attack us as
agents of the enemies,'' Jalaipour told The Associated Press.

On Saturday, the same court arrested two women reformists for attending the
Berlin conference. A third woman activist, Jamileh Kadivar, the wife of
Culture Minister Mohajerani, has been asked to appear in court on Monday for
questioning, Jalaipour said.

Mohajerani has allowed the pro-democracy press to flourish since Khatami's
1997 election and narrowly survived an impeachment vote last year. Lari
became Interior Minister after his predecessor, Abdollah Nouri, was impeached
by hard-liners three years ago. Nouri is now in jail, serving a five-year
sentence on charges of religious dissent.

It was not immediately known when the impeachment process against Mohajerani
and Lari will begin.

The hard-liners' actions are seen as an assault of some of the main bases of
support for Khatami, who has worked to loosen the strict Islamic limitations
on political and social life. Khatami allies wrested control of the
parliament from hard-liners with an overwhelming victory in February

On Saturday, in his strongest reaction yet to the hard-liners, Khatami
insisted that his reforms were unstoppable. Khatami also rebutted charges
that the reformists were anti-Islamic and foreign-inspired.

Reformers fear that the conservative clergy is trying to instigate violence
as a pretext for bringing troops into the streets and declaring a state of
emergency so as to delay the opening of the new parliament on May 27.


Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 16:30:35 EDT
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iranian court charges prominent reformers

Iranian court charges prominent reformers

TEHRAN, April 30 (Reuters) - A Revolutionary Court charged six reformists on
Sunday with endangering Iran's internal security by taking part in a
conference in Berlin earlier this month.

State television said the court, meeting behind closed doors, ruled that the
six, including three prominent journalists and a student leader, were charged
with ``acting against the internal security of Iran by taking part in the
Berlin conference.''

The conference on Iran's reforms was disrupted repeatedly by exiles opposed
to Iran's Islamic system, prompting the conservative establishment to label
participants as traitors to Islam and the revolution.

State television, which is controlled by hardliners, has broadcast excerpts
of what it said was immoral conduct by members of the conference audience in
an effort to discredit the reform movement. The video has become a hit on
Tehran's black market.

The court ordered campus leader Ali Afshari, of the nationwide Unity
Consolidation Office, to be held without bail. Feminists Mehrangiz Kar and
Shala Lahiji, detained since Saturday, were also bound over for trial.

Also charged was investigative journalist Akbar Ganji, who was already under
detention on charges of defaming the security services in news articles that
linked them to the serial murders of dissidents.

Freed on bail of about $12,000 was Hamid Reza Jalaiepour, an editor of a
pro-reform newspaper banned in last week's press crackdown, while Ezzatollah
Sahabi, an editor of a banned journal, was released after posting bond of
about $48,000.

Jalaiepour entered the session carrying a toothbrush and a kitbag and told
reporters he expected to be detained. ``I am always prepared to go. I carry
these with me wherever I go,'' he said.

Another Berlin paticipant, Jamileh Kadivar, MP-elect from Tehran and wife of
the liberal culture minister, has been ordered to appear on Monday.

On Saturday the same court detained the two feminists for alleged challenges
to Islamic values at conference earlier this month, family members said.

Siamak Pourzand, husband of lawyer Mehrangiz Kar, said his wife and fellow
femininst Lahiji were detained after being summoned to the court for

``They kept them at the court until 4 p.m. when they announced that they
would be detained. If they had wanted to release them on bail, they would
already have done so,'' Pourzand said. ``Now we have to wait.''

The wave of interrogations follows the closure last week of 16 pro-reform
publications in the biggest offensive to date against the movement for change
championed by President Mohammad Khatami.

Scattered protests on campuses across Iran greeted the bans but there has
been none of the violence that met the closure last July of the pro-Khatami
daily Salam.


Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 16:31:14 EDT
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Britain's Cook postpones Iran trip

Britain's Cook postpones Iran trip

By Susan Cornwell

LONDON, April 30 (Reuters) - Britain's Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has
postponed a trip to Iran until July, his office said on Sunday, but it denied
this was a response to a press crackdown there or an espionage trial of
Iranian Jews.

The trip, the first to Tehran by a British foreign minister since Iran's 1979
Islamic Revolution, had been scheduled for May 8-9 but will now take place on
July 4-5.

A Foreign Office spokesman said a combination of events had caused the
postponement, which he said should not be seen as a setback in relations.
Britain believed a process of reform was still moving forward in Iran, he

Iran's second round of parliamentary elections was set for May 5 and the
final result would not be ratified until May 8, ``and it's obviously not
usual for a foreign secretary to visit a foreign country during or within a
few days of parliamentary elections,'' the spokesman said.

He said Cook was also very busy with developments in Zimbabwe, formerly a
British colony, teetering on the brink of anarchy after self-styled veterans
of the independence war in the former Rhodesia invaded hundreds of
white-owned farms.

``We are obviously confident that the process of reform will continue to move
forward. This rescheduling is not a setback in our relationship with Iran,''
the Foreign Office spokesman said.

``It is not related to the trial of Iranian Jews or the closure of
newspapers, etc.''


Cook had spoken to his Iranian counterpart, Kamal Kharrazi, on Saturday and
new dates were agreed on, the Foreign Office said.

Cook's spokesman said recent events had demonstrated how delicate the
political situation in Iran remained, making it important to avoid any
appearance of interference ``at this sensitive time.''

Those recent developments have included detention without trial of prominent
reform figures by a revolutionary court, as well as the closure last week of
pro-reform publications.

Britain on Thursday expressed concern that a trial of 13 Iranian Jews accused
of spying for Israel was being held behind closed doors in Iran.

Cook told reporters London had urged that the trial should be open and that
there should be proper legal representation for those charged.

Britain and Iran have been cautiously improving relations since the Iranian
government distanced itself from a death edict passed on British author
Salman Rushdie by Iran's late spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Last January Kharrazi became the first Iranian minister to visit Britain
since the 1979 Islamic Revolution which overthrew the Shah.

The two countries agreed to strengthen cooperation, including combating drug
trafficking, and assisting Iran's efforts to host refugees from conflicts in
Afghanistan and Iraq. But their official statements glossed over differences
on Iran's human rights record and its hostility to Israel.


Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 16:31:48 EDT
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iranian workers rally for rights

Iranian workers rally for rights

TEHRAN, April 30 (Reuters) - Thousands of Iranian workers rallied outside the
Labour Ministry in central Tehran on Sunday to mark Labour Day with a raucous
defence of workers' rights.

The workers chanted slogans against the conservative- dominated outgoing
parliament and criticised the state broadcasting monopoly, run by hardliners,
in a statement issued at the end of the peaceful rally.

``Parliament don't mess with us,'' the crowd roared in reference to a recent
parliamentary act which allowed small- scale employers to waive certain
provisions of the Labour Law.

``The labour law is the fruit of the spilt blood of martyrs,'' the workers

They also called on the government of moderate President Mohammad Khatami, in
a bitter power struggle with Iran's entrenched conservatives, to address the
issue of employment and job creation.

The official unemployment rate runs at 16 percent but many economists believe
the true rate to be higher.

The workers had originally planned to march towards the parliament building
but were denied permission by the interior ministry, fearful it would
aggravate left-right tensions.

The Islamic Labour Party earlier issued a statement calling for the
recognition of the right to strike and called for the formation of workers'


Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 16:32:22 EDT
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Saudi crown prince in UAE for talks

Saudi crown prince in UAE for talks

ABU DHABI, April 30 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah arrived
in the UAE on Sunday for talks likely to include a UAE-Iran territorial
dispute which hampers closer ties between Gulf Arab states and their non-Arab

The official Emirates news agency WAM reported the arrival of the crown
prince in Abu Dhabi, but it did not give details.

The visit comes one day after leaders of the six-member Gulf Cooperation
Council (GCC) comprising Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and
Kuwait held a consultative summit in the Omani capital Muscat and discussed
GCC ties with Iran.

Saudi Arabia is a member of a tripartite GCC committee set up last year to
try to help resolve a dispute between Iran and the UAE over three small but
strategic Gulf islands controlled by Iran but also claimed by the UAE.

Ties between the GCC and Iran have been improving since moderate Iranian
President Mohammad Khatami took office in 1997. But further improvement of
relations has been hampered by the territorial dispute.

The committee was set up last year after the UAE threatened to quit the GCC
regional alliance in anger at what it saw as the quick pace of rapprochement
between Saudi Arabia and Iran before the dispute over the islands was


Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 16:33:14 EDT
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iranian students rally in support of free press

Iranian students rally in support of free press

TEHRAN, April 30 (Reuters) - Several hundred Iranian students have rallied in
three provinces in support of a free press, newspapers reported on Sunday.

The students held rallies in Kermanshah, Rasht and Bushehr on Saturday
calling for an end to press restrictions, Kar va Kargar newspaper said.

Some students taped their mouths as a sign of protest against censorship, the
daily added.

The rallies follow a protest in Tehran on Friday in which the students
chanted slogans against the state broadcasting monopoly, controlled by
hardliners appointed by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, under the
watchful eyes of riot police.

Witnesses said that the students burned car tyres and threw stones in
apparent frustration at the crackdown on reformist newspapers and what they
said was the political bias of state television in reporting news.

Iran's hardline judiciary banned without trial 16 pro- reform publications
last week for allegedly ``disparaging Islam and the religious elements of the
Islamic revolution.''

The bans, which aimed at the heart of the reform programme under moderate
President Mohammad Khatami, have not drawn the impassioned response that
greeted the sudden closure last July of the reformist daily Salam.

Then a pro-democracy rally was set upon by the security forces and
vigilantes, touching off the worst unrest since the aftermath of the 1979
Islamic revolution.

Reformist forces, mindful of last summer's violence, have appealed repeatedly
for calm.

Last week, Ayatollah Khamenei said some reformist newspapers had been turned
into ``bases of the enemy,'' remarks widely seen here as heralding a campaign
against the independent press.


Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 16:34:10 EDT
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iran leader commutes death sentences of students

Iran leader commutes death sentences of students

TEHRAN, April 30 (Reuters) - Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has
approved the commutation of death sentences against four students for their
part in the July unrest that rocked the capital Tehran, the official IRNA
news agency said on Sunday.

``The proposal by the head of the judiciary was approved by the leader to
commute the death sentences against the four convicts in the Tehran
University dormitory incident to 15 years (in prison),'' the agency said,
citing a judiciary statement.

Mehrdad Sohrabi, Ahmad Batebi, Abbas Deldar and Akbar Mohammadi were
originally sentenced to death as ``mohareb,'' or those who struggle against

A picture of Batebi, displaying a bloody shirt of a fellow student, was
published in Iran and around the world at the height of the July unrest,
sparked when police and hardline vigilantes attacked a peaceful campus rally
for freedom of the press.

Mohammadi was accused of throwing a petrol bomb during the ensuing six days
of trouble, the worst unrest since the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic

There was no immediate information on the circumstances of the arrest and
prosecution of Sohrabi and Deldar.


Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 23:46:56 EDT
Subject: Fwd: In New York ,Boston,Chicago,INF invites you.

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Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 00:18:43 EDT
Subject: Fwd: In New York ,Boston,Chicago,INF invites you.
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Dear friend:
I am sending you this Email because I found your Email on some Iran related
list. If you do not want to get any more massege,please let me know .If you
agree , please forward it to your friend

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IRAN NATIONAL FRON in U.S.A.(Jebhe Melli Iran-USA) , invites you to join us
to defend basic human rights in Iran, support pro democracy movement and free
press, protest hundreds of jailed freedom lovers and journalists, condemn the
latest attack and coup d'etat of the forces of darkness and coordinate with
the freedom movement of Iranian people.

Time;Fri,May 5 , 2000
Place: Columbia University
Hamilton Hall, Room 206.

Time;Sat,May 6.2000
Place: Hellenic Cultural Center
25 Biglow Ave

Time ,Sun,May,14,2000
Place: TBA






End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 28 Apr 2000 to 30 Apr 2000